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Thursday, August 4, 2016

New Report Shows LGBTQ Students Targeted for Discipline

New Report Shows LGBTQ Students Targeted for Discipline

Our colleagues at GLSEN recently released a troubling report detailing the educational exclusion of LGBTQ students in our nation’s schools. The findings overwhelmingly confirm that LGBTQ students are more likely to experience unfair discipline.

Forty percent of LGBTQ students reported receiving detention, in-school or out-of-school suspension, or expulsion from their school. Transgender students in the GLSEN survey reported especially high rates of disciplinary action. Nearly half (45%) of transgender students had faced discipline at school, and transgender students were more than three times as likely to report they might not report complete high school (7.6%) compared to non-transgender LGBQ students (2%). These higher rates of discipline also translated to higher rates of contact with the juvenile justice system (3.5%), even compared to other LGBTQ students. LGBTQ students of color, homeless students, and LGBTQ students with disabilities reported also faced particularly high rates of discipline.

For years research has shown that youth of color experience sharp disparitiees in school, being disciplined more frequently and more severely than their white peers. The US Department of Education has undertaken a number of efforts to address these troubling disparities, though none so far have focused on the additional impacts for LGBTQ youth of color. Disproportionate discipline funnels youth of color andLGBTQ youth into the criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, many of the factors that result in disciplinary action towards LGBTQ youth stem from discrimination at school. Students who are bullied interact with school authorities more regularly. Instead of being protected from further harassment, they are more likely to be punished by school administration for behavior in the future.  School administrators’ attempts to enforce gender norms are another reason transgender students face more discipline. Almost 60% of transgender students had been forced to use school restrooms or locker rooms inconsistent with their gender identity. Forty-two percent had been prevented from using their preferred name. Ultimately, some students feel so unsafe at their schools that they choose to not attend at all. These student then face discipline for absenteeism. Instead of solving the problems at the core of this issue, far too many schools punish the students who need a supportive environment.

A toxic school environment is the opposite of preparing young people for success. All students deserve to feel safe and supported at school.  Students facing discrimination in school can refer to NCTE’s Know Your Rights at School resource. Teachers and school administrators can better support their transgender students by adapting NCTE and GLSEN’s Model School District Policy.

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